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Jesus’ Leadership Style

May 6, 2010

Was Jesus – on the earth – a very good listener?

I don’t think He was.

Of course, in one regard, He didn’t really need to be. It’s not like anyone had anything to tell Him that He didn’t already know.

But the transfer of knowledge isn’t the only reason people like to be listened to. You might say it’s not even the primary reason people like to be listened to. People like to be listened to because we like to talk. Because when we have a problem or a bad day it makes us feel better to talk about it. People like sympathy. It makes us feel less alone. It makes us feel valued.

There are all kinds of books and theories and blogs about leadership. There are different strategies and approaches. Many of them make great arguments for talking less and listening more. Many will tell you that, as the leader, you are responsible for keeping people engaged, connected, together, on-task, etc.

I had two conversations in two days last week – one with a youth ministry guru and one with a student – that got me really thinking about Jesus’ leadership style.

Because Jesus told people to follow Him, and then walked away. Jesus told a huge crowd of people, that if they wanted to continue on with Him they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

Jesus didn’t compromise His standards when someone wanted to say goodbye to his family, or had a dead relative that needed burying before he could leave home. Jesus didn’t ask open-ended questions to coach someone into discovering the truth or the answer on his/her own.

Neither did His disciples in the early Church. There was no exception made for someone who brought a big offering. They didn’t let each other get comfortable and lazy in their faith. They didn’t even deal with everything themselves. The letters of Paul that make up much of our New Testament are written, in most cases, to correct error.

It seems the leaders proclaimed an uncompromised truth and lead by example, and let the chips fall.

It’s not been an exhaustive study of the New Testament, and I don’t even have any conclusions to draw at present. So help us out:

What do you think? Should we still be modeling Jesus’ leadership style or have times changed? What conclusions could we draw? What would this mean for the western Church?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2010 8:36 am

    A couple thoughts, with no real conclusions either… :)

    Proverbs has tons of verses about the value and wisdom of speaking less and listening more.

    Jesus is obviously our perfect example for everything, but I don’t feel like I could lead just like Him, since I’m not God. Like you mentioned, He didn’t need to necessarily listen to everyone’s feedback because He already knew what they were thinking & their feedback wasn’t going to change how He did things, because He was perfect already.

    I’m certainly not perfect, so I need to listen to what people have to say that I’m leading so that I can make corrections or adjustments to my leadership style where it’s necessary. I don’t want to allow the fear of man to cause me to back down on what I feel is right, but I still want to listen to their fears, concerns, questions, etc. and have the humility to receive constructive criticism. Does that make sense?

    • Lex permalink
      May 7, 2010 10:07 am

      Absolutely! I wasn’t trying to imply that we shouldn’t listen to correction or instruction. (Although it does raise an interesting side-question: WHO do you take instruction from? People in authority over you? People working along side you? People you’re ministering to? Some of it will be good, but some of it will be the product of a bitter heart – You can’t take EVERYTHING to heart.)

      I guess I’m thinking about – because this is where those two conversations went – while we’re actually in the active role of leading. What does THAT look like? Jesus went away and prayed by Himself often, and surely He was getting some instruction and direction. But His leadership style was pretty rough and/or straight forward a lot of times.

      And, of course, none of us are God – but Jesus did tell us to be perfect and holy “as our Father in heaven” is. Our goal is to be as much like Him as possible, and we see some of that in the way the disciples led the early Church – Don’t you think?

      Maybe there’s too much gray area for a concrete conclusion, but it’s been on my and it’s interesting to consider. I’m not the best leader, personally, so filtering through the advice and the strategies and trying to be Christlike is a challenge. :)

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